The profit will go somewhere

If you buy this piece of crap, a percentage of the proceeds will go to helping orphaned puppies achieve their dreams of catching rainbows.

How much will go there and how will you know if I follow through with this? You can trust me. I’m a guy that loves orphaned puppies; how could you NOT trust me?

Shopping Greifportunities

This is my biggest beef with social entrepreneurs. Most of the time there is a complete lack of transparency and accountability.

The Colbert Report did a bit on “Shopping Greifportunities” last night with a focus on 9/11 stuff. You can buy 9/11 shoes, merlot, a chessboard with firefighters and police officers going at it, and even a dog collar (in dog years the tragedy was only 1 ½ years ago!).

The LA Times reports that the winery bottling the 9/11 wine donates 6-10% of the proceeds from the sale to the National September 11 Memorial and Museum.

“We’ve probably donated $25,000 from that wine,” said Gary Madden, general manager of the winery.

$25,000! That’s great!

But here’s what’s not so great: his use of the word “probably.” How do we know they donated anything? How much profit have they made off the wine? How much of a markup exists because of the 9/11 marketing angle?

The bottle retails for $19.11. Let’s say there is a 100% markup. That means the winery wholesales the wine for $9.55, but that isn’t their profit. Here’s a winery that wholesales a bottle for $12 and it costs them $7 to produce. If that same ratio applies to the 9/11 wine, one bottle sold equals a profit of $5.57. Six to ten percent of that is 33- to 56-cents.

Does it make sense to choose one product over another so 33- to 56-cents can go to a cause that you believe in?

Heck, I donate more than that ($1 to be precise) to kitties and puppies when I buy kitty litter at PetSmart.

There’s a fuzzy line between exploitation and social entrepreneurship. Every item that says, “proceeds will go to (insert cause here)” should come with a label saying exactly what that amount is. How else will we know if we are being taken advantage of as consumers and if a cause is being exploited to pad a company’s bottom line.

I’ve been asked if proceeds of my book go to any charity. The short answer is “No.”

But the long answer is that 4% of our family income goes to support local and global causes.

My income from a book sale is about $2. That means that for every copy sold, we donate 8-cents to a cause. That’s hardly worth bragging about. Maybe I can put a photo of my kids on the back cover of my book and write…

96% of the author’s royalties will go to feed his kids, save for college, pay down student loans, pay for his mortgage, car, gas, donuts, and the occasional case of beer.

Now that would be truth in marketing.

As Colbert says when he holds up his 9/11 commemorative eye-poking stick, “The profit will go somewhere.”

Here’s the whole Colbert bit…

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Shopping Griefportunities
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Cathy Shouse says:

Very good points, Kelsey!

Carol Bradshaw says:

I guess I never thought of it that way. We also say, “Proceeds will benefit…” and we DO give 100% of the proceeds to whatever organization we are working with, but I was always afraid to do anything else. Will not anymore! I’m going to say, “100% of the proceeds will benefit…”

An says:

thanks kelsy for defining the line between exploitation and social entrepreneurship

Kikil says:

I thank the author for creating the post; it was really useful to me and I enjoyed it. I made a note about it on the I’d appreciate it if you could read it and accept it. Thank you for taking the time to express your issue.

Let your voice be heard!